Happy New Year, everyone!
Thanks to every one of you who made 2019 brilliant for our young people and are now planning on making 2020 ever better!
So here’s to another year of fun and adventure, trying new things, getting back up and trying again, finding things we enjoy, thinking for ourselves and asking the big questions!
Here’s a glimpse back at what we did in 2019 and what we hope to do in 2020. And this year we want to have a big emphasis on safety – safe camping, safe meetings and safe fun.
In Scouting terms, the year of 2019 has flown by. All of our sections have provided opportunities for young people to take part in national, Regional, District and local events as well as wonderful weekly meetings. It is this joined up approach that enables us to offer so much to our young people and give them the chance from an early age to see over the horizon and meet new people and try new things.
We know that Scouting in our Region is hugely successful – it continues to attract more leaders and young people year on year. The Annual Review on 1 Oct 2019, held at the same time as the AGM, demonstrated this. It took a different format last year and included presentations from Beavers (everyday fun in their section and in the Annual Review!), Scouts (Chief Scout Awards), Explorers (World Scout Jamboree) and Network (work in Madagascar). The achievements and the adventures shown in these presentations helped us and all our visitors to realise what fantastic work our leaders do to provide such great opportunities for young people.
Scouting Support Officer, Mike Treanor
Mike joined the Regional Leadership Team in July 2019 and started in role by meeting a wide range of people across the Region and Districts as well as others in SHQ and in partner organisations. He also spent time familiarising himself with the Census and Compass information.
Mike’s key remit is to encourage volunteer recruitment, support, and retention. His key focus has been:
- Organising attendance at recruitment events at Freshers Fairs, Third Party Volunteer Fairs and other similar events to identify and follow up potential adult volunteers
- Managing recruitment queries from other sources including the SES Scouts website
- Bringing together a recruitment campaign in East Lothian District to be launched in the New Year 2020, which can then be rolled out elsewhere.
- Organising a Regional GSL Conference to be held on 21 March 2020
- Promoting best practice around Adult Volunteer Welcome and Induction, relaunching the 4-week challenge and producing crib cards to support conversations with potential volunteers.
Regional Leadership Team – key appointments in 2019
We have strengthened our Regional Leadership Team (RLT) with some exciting new appointments:
- Deputy Regional Commissioner, Programme: Simon Cocker will focus on promoting outdoor and adventurous activities within sections.
- District Commissioner, Midlothian: Richard Fairbairn will handle the issues in his District with the knowledge and experience of his lengthy leadership in the Bonnyrigg Group.
- Regional Adviser International: Simon Innes ensures all groups going abroad are fully prepared for their trips, and that the leaders complete all the necessary steps such as obtaining insurance, developing full risk assessments, etc.
- Assistant Regional Commissioner Comms: Martin Browne will be developing the SES Scouts newsletter, website, Facebook and twitter, with the assistance of Mike Treanor, our Scouting Support Officer.
- Member of the Regional Risk Committee: Ian Forman, an Explorer leader, will now assist the Regional Risk Committee, particularly using his experience from the construction industry.
- Regional Training Administrator: John Bruce has added to his many roles to become a Regional Administrator to assist Mary Dick, ARC Training, in manging a very extensive programme of courses provided by the Region, which are free of charge for mandatory training.
- Manager of the Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme (MAPS): Bruce Macdonald. Thanks to Bruce’s work, we now have assessors for 12 activities – for 7 of the activities we have more than one assessor. In all, 36 permits were issued in 2019.
- Nights Away Adviser (NAA) teach-in: Ian Kernohan, a very experienced NAA will run coordinating meetings for all NAAs in Districts in 2020 to ensure consistency of practice.
- Blair Atholl Coordinator: Donald Mackay is our new Coordinator and is working hard with the Core Planning Team to ensure that all our Explorers are fully prepared for this camp in 2020, with its emphasis on traditional Scouting skills, such as pioneering!
We fully appreciate the time, energy and commitment that all our leaders and supporters bring to Scouting in our Region.
Game of Scouting Group
Our increasing focus on outdoor and adventurous activities in 2020 will be enriched by the small group which has been set up to consider how the Regional Leadership Team can encourage more developments and activities in camping and the outdoors. It is a short-life group which we hope can spur on greater achievements, in line with our Regional Strategy 2018-23, particularly in relation to the Programme ‘pillar’, achieving top awards and better publicity about our sections and community projects. As part of our drive to increase the amount and quality of outdoor and adventurous activities, we have already started to plan training for bushcraft sessions. The most popular activities are apparently skinning rabbits and game and cooking them over open fires!
On the international front we have seen many trips abroad including the World Scout Jamboree which has come and gone, with our contingent of 40 young people and 4 leaders having had a trip of a lifetime to West Virginia and Canada. The opportunity of sending teams of Scouts and Explorers to Eurojam in Poland in 2020 has been taken up and it currently looks like we will have 27 young people representing SES Scouts in Poland. There have been many trips abroad including the Haarlem Jamboree, Kandersteg and the Network trip to Tana, Madagascar, to help rebuild a girls’ refuge.
Russell Shoulder, our Regional Safeguarding Awareness Coordinator, has ensured that nearly 400 leaders and supporters were trained in 2019, with the help of a team of 6 trainers who have all been trained by the UK Safeguarding Team. Safeguarding issues are not a significant feature numerically in our Region, especially bearing in mind we have 2,100 leaders and supporters, but all do require careful and sympathetic but firm handling.
Throughout the year Mary Dick, Assistant Regional Commissioner, Adult Training, has with the assistance of John Bruce in his role of Regional Training Adviser organised a range of the courses required for leaders’ Wood Badges and for other roles such as those for Adult Advisory Appointment Committee members. These are all advertised on the SES Scouts website and most are well attended. There has been an issue regarding not enough First Response courses being provided but after Mary organised training for future trainers, this problem has largely been overcome.
We are now going to promote safety in 2020 – and hoping we can achieve a 95% success rate of all our leaders doing the online safety training. It only it takes 30 minutes! We have achieved this success rate for face to face safeguarding courses for our leaders – let’s do it now for safety training.
As always, the Gang Show was a tremendous success with 250 young people participating! We were pleased to welcome Tim Kidd, UK Chief Commissioner, and Sharkey, the Chief Commissioner of Scotland, to the 60th Anniversary production. (They also met the World Scout Jamboree contingent before the show). The level of commitment involved in coordinating hundreds of young people and producing a most remarkable Gang Show is outstanding. Well done, the Gang Show ASU!
Longcraig Scout Centre
The ASU members, who are all volunteers, ran a very successful year in this, their 50th Anniversary year, 2019. What a great year it has been – well done all the members of the ASU! In addition, the ASU is working hard to develop a 5 -year business plan, led by Andrew Green, Regional Executive Committee (REC) member, and aided by several other REC members, as well as leaders.
This plan will be presented to the REC at the March 2020 meeting and it will contain a through-going analysis or the current business at the centre, as well as plans for the future, including improvements for the toilets, changing areas, and hot water. These will require an investment in the same way that the REC is investing in the amenity hub for Bonaly Scout Centre. Future developments at the centre will be handled in the same way as those required for Bonaly, i.e. they will need to be paid for through fundraising.
Bonaly Scout Centre
It’s been a busy year at Bonaly Scout Centre with 13,000 visitors staying for a total of 21,000 bed nights; and over 700 visitors on the busiest weekend in May. People have been visiting Bonaly from far and wide with international groups and groups from all over the UK, and of course South East Scotland Region. The centre was chosen to host the selection weekend and subsequent training camps for Blair Atholl 2020, a WSJ reunion weekend and many SES Scouts District events. In September, SMESU Explorers had a service weekend camp at Bonaly in preparation for their trip to Rwanda. Their project was to clear up and repair the Roman Bath area and they did a fantastic job.
The centre is looking forward to 2020 with work starting on the new Amenity Hub and two new toilets in the Baronial Hall, open to everyone using the site. New activities and events will be introduced, including a conservation/nature awareness weekend, with tree planting and habitat creation sessions. So, a big thank you to the fantastic ASU for giving so much time and effort to help Bonaly provide the facilities and activities we offer. The ASU includes the Catering Team which has fed hundreds of hungry mouths, the Tuck Shop Team so loved by the young people and the Maintenance Team which continues to keep the centre working, looking cared for and cutting the grass!
Awards for leaders and young people
In 2019, leaders and supporters across the Region received 125 awards, thus catching up on a backlog over the past few years when relatively few awards had been received.
We will be concentrating in 2020 on assisting our young people to achieve more top awards in all sections, units and Networks. We were the only Region which did not receive any Queen Scout Awards at St George’s Day Parade in Windsor in April 2019, and we can do better in 2020! Part of Simon Cocker’s remit, as DRC Programme, will cover this area and we hope that with added impetus from him, we can assist our young people to achieve more of the highest awards.
Community Impact – how we help others and the environment
I recognise that there are some areas we all need to tackle – chiefly community impact, and also diversity and inclusion, as well as Youth Involvement Awards which have just been restarted by SHQ.
We know that a huge amount of work is done in the Region for people who need help and for the environment, but we do not have a record of this or know where we could encourage it more. So we are now looking out for and will be advertising in the SES Scouts newsletter for a Regional Adviser, Helping Others (Community Impact) who could assist us to undertake thus work.
Governance and good management
On the governance side, Malcolm Cutt has stepped down as Regional Treasurer but stepped up as the Chair of the Finance Committee – we could not afford to manage without his much-valued strategic guidance. Bruce Macdonald has added to his many other Scouting roles by becoming Regional Treasurer. Thank you to both for their sterling service to the Regional Executive Committee and its sub-committees. And thank you to all the members who give their time and experience to help us manage our Regional resources.
So far this year, I have received only three complaints at the Regional level. They were mainly about the inability of parents to secure places for their children in a section. These were then handled by the District Commissioners. This low level of complaints at Regional level indicates that our leaders are providing safe and positive experiences for young people and are working well together.
Planning for 2020
Here are some key dates for you to note. We do hope that you will be able to support these, where appropriate:
- GSL conference on 21 March 2020
- Thank-you reception for leaders, managers and supporters, hopefully at Edinburgh Castle in May 2020
- Scouting Showcase at Bonaly Scout Centre on 19 September 2020 (date tbc)
- Regional Annual Review and AGM 13 October 2020
My sincere thanks to all the members of the Regional Leadership Team, particularly the District Commissioners, for all the work they do over the year. I want to thank all of you who do so much week in and week out to support our young people and make South East Scotland Scouts what it is – a place where we are proud to say we provide young people at all levels with fun, adventure and skills for life.
Scouting in our Region is going from strength to strength, thanks to all the support and assistance from our leaders, managers and supporters, as well as the Regional Executive Committee. I hope that 2020 will be just as positive for all our young people as 2019 has been.
May I wish you and your families a very healthy, busy and enjoyable Scouting year in 2020.
Regional Commissioner, South East Scotland Scouts